North Queensland captain Johnathan Thurston.

Thurston concedes he must improve to lift Cowboys

It's a measure of Johnathan Thurston's greatness that he's always looking to be better and he concedes his form has not been up to his usual standards over the first four weeks of the Telstra Premiership season.

On the comeback trail from shoulder surgery which threatened to end his career, the four-time Dally M Medal winner knows where he needs to improve.

"It's been tough, everyone's had a really good, strong, pre-season and teams are playing extremely well, so you need to be near your best or at your best every time you put on the jersey," he said.

"Getting my defence right, my fifth-tackle options as well, getting the kick selection right - there's a few things there to work on. That's the great thing about footy, it's on again next week." 

Since early 2015, Thurston and Michael Morgan have been considered one of the most dominant halves pairings in the competition, the master and apprentice.

A conversation couldn't be had about the best halves without mentioning the former Queensland star and his understudy, but that isn't the case in 2018.

Injuries to both Thurston and Morgan has reset their combinationin attack. Morgan spoke to Thurston about their combination after their round-four loss to the Panthers.

While Thurston was tight-lipped about what they plan to implement, he knows it's an issue that needs to be addressed.

"We've had a nice chat during the week and certainly we're trying to put in some structures there that can get the best out of each other and hopefully you're going to see that building over the next couple of weeks," Thurston said. 

Most of the breakdown in their pairing is likely due to the injuries the halves have had in the last 12 months, but given the competitor Thurston has always been, it's likely he'll bounce back sooner rather than later.

On Saturday they come up against in-form Warriors duo Blake Green and Shaun Johnson in Auckland and the North Queensland co-captain has nothing but respect for his scrum-base rivals.

"It's no coincidence that wherever Blake Green goes teams are having success, he's been a big part of the way that they're playing and he's playing some wonderful footy and that's been able to free up Johnson to do what he does best and that's second-phase play," Thurston said. 

"That's the challenge for us as a team, to defend that and hopefully we can put a little bit of pressure on them as well when they've got the ball."

"That's the challenge for us as halves - trying to get one over those types of players and Blake's playing some outstanding football there and wherever he goes teams seem to have success."